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Research Byte: Cognitive Mediators of Reading Comprehension in Early Development

Cognitive Mediators of Reading Comprehension in Early Development

Scott L. Decker & Julia Englund Strait & Alycia M. Roberts & Emma Kate Wright.

Contemp School Psychol DOI 10.1007/s40688-017-0127-0

Abstract

Although the empirical relationship between general intelligence and academic achievement is well established, that between specific cognitive abilities and achievement is less so. This study investigated the rela-tionships between specific Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) cognitive abilities and reading comprehension across a large sample of children (N = 835) at different periods of reading development (grades 1–5). Results suggest se-lect cognitive variables predict reading comprehension above and beyond basic reading skills. However, the rel-ative importance of specific cognitive abilities in predicting reading comprehension differs across grade levels. Further analyses using mediation models found specific cognitive abilities mediated the effects of basic reading skills on reading comprehension. Implications for the important and dynamic role of cognitive abilities in predicting reading comprehension across development are discussed.

From discussion

The results from this study supported our general hypothesis that specific cognitive abilities are important for reading com-prehension and the predictors change across grade. Specifically, measures of fluid reasoning (Gf) and auditory processing (Ga) appear to be most important for predicting reading comprehension performance (as measured by the pas-sage comprehension subtest) in the early elementary grades, while long-term retrieval (Glr) appears as a significant predic-tor in grades 3–4. Crystallized knowledge (Gc) appears to be important across all five early grade levels, consistent with previous studies (e.g., Floyd et al. 2007; Hajovsky et al. 2014). Reading decoding skills (as measured by the Letter-Word ID subtest) predicted reading comprehension across all elementary grade levels, also consistent with previous studies (e.g., Floyd et al. 2012), and reading fluency (reading fluency subtest) predicted reading comprehension in grades 2–5.

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